I always wanted an international career. Soon after graduating from Cardiff University with a master’s degree in civil engineering, I lined myself up with a series of global placements, left my home in the United Kingdom and headed to Muscat, Oman.
Over the course of a year, I worked in microbial fuel cell research and development in Muscat and later in Kibaha, Tanzania, helping design a prayer hall and orphanage. When I came back to the UK and joined AECOM’s Bridges and Structures team in Croydon, I found the team’s breadth of knowledge humbling. I am so glad to have them as mentors, willing to guide and teach me. The truth is, the entire team is constantly learning, thinking of new ideas and problem solving together.
My team currently supports the High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) project, developing designs for bridges to make them as sustainable, economical and innovative as possible. I appreciate that even as a graduate, I have a seat in design meetings and a voice that is heard. The environment is fast-paced, but there is never an issue with slowing things down for learning moments. I am involved in creating and analysing models, a very collaborative and creative process in which we are often scribbling on pieces of paper, sketching and conceptualising our thoughts, and discussing issues to come up with the best solutions.
Before I joined HS2, I worked on the Wessex Capacity Alliance, which involved the redevelopment of Waterloo Station in London. It was an awesome project, and I learned that conducting a bridge assessment is a great way to learn about bridge engineering. You work backwards taking a structure and understanding it from first principles — how and why it was designed, how the loads are carried through the structure, where corrosion is likely to occur, how defects may affect the structure, and how the bridge can be strengthened. These tasks helped me see the bigger picture when working on new designs.
Being involved with high profile projects such as HS2 and Wessex Capacity has not only given me technical experience but has also exposed me to essential attributes that will pave the way towards becoming chartered and help me build upon my international career aspirations.